PNE 6 Carlisle 1 full-time

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Preston North End hit Carlisle United for six as they produced a superb attacking performance at Deepdale.

Craig Davies netted a second-half hat-trick, with Stuart Beavon, Alan Browne and Lee Holmes also on target as North End turned the screw on their visitors.

Preston North End's Manager Simon

Preston North End's Manager Simon

Their biggest victory of the season was all done with top scorer Joe Garner who missed the match after his partner went into labour on the morning of the game.

North End were two goals to the good inside the first 20 minutes, Beavon heading home a free-kick from Paul Gallagher and then Browne - making his full debut - bundled in the second.

Gary Madine halved the deficit for the Cumbrians four minutes before the interval with a looping header.

But any fears of the visitors staging a revival were blown away by North End’s display in the second half.

Holmes rolled home a low shot two minutes after half-time, then on-loan striker Davies took centre stage with his treble.

It was the first time that PNE had scored six goals in a league game since 2010.

Lilywhites boss Simon Grayson had made five changes from the side which had drawn at Bristol City.

Keith Keane, Scott Laird, Beavon, Gallagher and Browne came into the starting XI.

As well as Garner being absent, out went John Welsh (suspended) and Chris Humphrey (injury), while David Buchanan and Bailey Wright who dropped down to the bench.

It was a first start for Irish teenager Browne after three substitutes appearances, with him partnering Neil Kilkenny in the centre of midfield.

Wright’s move to the bench came as he looked to avoid a 10th booking which would trigger a two-match ban.

The late dash to the maternity unit for Garner meant that North End named only six substitutes.

Carlisle threatened in the early skirmishes, a shot from Madine hitting his team-mate Sean O’Hanlon and going wide.

North End took a 10th minute lead after winning a free-kick down the inside-right channel.

Gallagher whipped it into the box with plenty of pace, Beavon meeting it and glancing a header across United keeper Jordan Pickford into the far corner of the net.

Scott Laird’s first-time shot from 20 yards a couple of minutes later travelled just over the bar.

As Preston maintained their pressure, Gallagher’s first-time shot from the left side of the box was pushed out by the diving Pickford.

The hosts doubled their advantage in the 20th minute, Browne the scorer and Holmes very much the creator.

It was Holmes’ jinking run which carried him into the box and when his shot was blocked by Pickford, the ball fell to the supporting Browne who bundled it over the line from close range.

A cross from Kilkenny was just a bit too high for Davies to reach at the back post, the striker’s header at full stretch going over the bar.

Carlisle found themselves a route back into the game four minutes before the interval as they halved the deficit.

Danny Redmond delivered a right-wing corner over to the far post where Madine held off a couple of PNE defenders to loop a header over Declan Rudd and into the roof of the net despite the best efforts of Tom Clarke to clear on the line.

North End’s response was a low drive from Gallagher on the left side of the box which crashed into the side-netting.

Then in first-half stoppage time, Beavon picked the pocket of Chris Chantler on the side of his box, his cross finding Gallagher whose volley struck O’Hanlon and dropped behind for a corner.

Just two minutes of the second period had been played when PNE restored their two-goal lead.

Davies forced his way down the left-wing and put over a high speculative cross which Pickford came to meet but couldn’t hold above his head.

The ball dropped to Gallagher who squared it to Kilkenny who in turn fed Holmes, the winger rolling a shot into the net from eight yards.

By the 56th minute it was 4-1 as Davies notched the first of his treble.

Laird did the spadework down the left, his cross dummied by Beavon into the path of Davies whose first shot was gloved out by Pickford.

It fell back into the path of Davies who stuck out his knee to guide the ball over the line from six yards.

North End kept up the pressure, Gallagher’s low centre into the six-yard box fingertipped away by Pickford as Davies slid in to try and make contact.

Davies crashed an ambitious long-range shot over the bar before North End made a double change - Kevin Davies and Josh Brownhill replacing Beavon and Kilkenny.

A corner from Gallagher was headed inches over the bar by Tom Clarke, then soon after, Gallagher crashed a volley goalwards which forced Pickford into a fine diving save.

But the Lilywhites were not to be denied, as two more goals in a four-minute spell from Davies saw him claim the match ball.

He made it 5-1 in the 79th minute, a slide-rule pass from skipper Keith Keane playing in Brownhill down the right side of the box.

The teenager’s shot clipped off the keeper and fell to Davies who flicked the ball with his heel into the roof of the net.

The sixth goal came in the 83rd minute, Davies lifting the ball over the head of his marker, running round him to meet it before he buried a low right-foot finish into the bottom corner.

His shirt-off celebration saw him booked by referee Mark Haywood, the only blot on a pleasing afternoon’s work.

The sixth goal signalled the arrival of Paul Huntington from the bench in place of Clarke for his first appearance since January.

PNE: Rudd, Keane, King, Clarke (Huntington 83), Laird, Holmes, Browne, Kilkenny (Brownhill 74), Gallagher, C Davies, Beavon (K Davies 74). Unused subs: Wright, Buchanan, Stuckmann.

Carlisle: Pickford, Chimbonda (Robson 39), Brown, O’Hanlon, Symington, Potts (Noble 61), Thirlwell, Redmond (Miller 72), Chantler, Amoo, Madine. Subs not used: Fleming, Byrne, Guy, Meppen-Walter.

Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire)

Attendance: 11,428 (1,374 away)